Selling Without Talking; The Art of Listening

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The most interesting sale I ever made was once 2 years ago. I had booked a meeting with the CEO of a large company. I was prepared for the meeting, reworked my presentation and felt confident that I would be able to turn any objection he had into a reason for him to buy.
Listening
I was 10 minutes early, got a class of water and waited.
After 20 minutes he came out and invited me into his office.

Now something happened that I wasn’t expecting. I always had a few questions prepared to open the meeting so I started asking him about his business, and something amazing happened. He started talking, it was like a floodgate that had opened, he just talked and talked. At first I was waiting for him to stop so I could get on with my presentation but then I realized this was perfect, everything I had ever taught and been taught. After he had spoken for about 25 minutes I knew everything about his business and the troubles they had.

He asked me “Can you solve this problem?”

“Yes, I believe I can, but first I just want to make sure I have understood you correctly” and I gave him my take of the situation making sure I had understood him perfectly. He corrected me once in a while and after 20 minutes we both felt that I knew what he was facing.

He asked me again “Can you solve this problem for me?”
“Yes, this is what I propose we do.”

It took me 5 minutes to tell him what would help him and we signed the contract, instead of the 30 minutes I had planned for.
He trusted me because he trusted that I understood the situation he was facing.

I had let him speak and been a way for him to let it all out. That built an amazing report that still exists today.

Selling without talking
Selling is all about trust and building relationships.
Everyone wants to speak. Everyone wants to be noticed and everyone wants to be respected. By listening to someone, really listening, you build that report. It isn’t talking that builds the relationship it is listening.

Here are 2 things to think about when you are going to practice “Selling by listening”

1. Seek to truly understand.
Don’t try to pry or steer the conversation. Seek to understand. Before speaking listen to what your customer is saying, most people listen waiting for a chance to respond, but if you can focus on listening and understanding and from there make your responses you will be all the more insightful.

If you are unsure what they mean, ask, ask for examples to help illustrate the problem even better.

2. Rephrase back
To make sure you have understood correctly try surmising the problem in your own words to the customer and see if you are correct. Don’t try to protect your assessment, ask “Is this what you meant?”

If not ask to have it explained again.

This shows the customer that you really care about what they are saying and want to be sure that you truly understand what they mean.

Conclusion
By proving that you care enough about your customers to listen to their troubles and from them try to find a solution you can make your sales experiences a lot easier and a lot more pleasant. Spend some time learning and improving your listening skills and the difference it will make it your life will be immense.

Action Exercises
1.Start trying to understand your customers situation before making your sales pitch. Make sure you have understood exactly what problems they have.

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Photo Credit: vagawi

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